How To Respond to Negative Reviews

Picture this – You’re sitting down with a fresh cup of coffee to complete your daily task of checking your company’s Google reviews. You’re excited to see all the great things that are being said about your brand, readying your fingers for their “thank you” replies, when you log in and see it. Every digital marketer’s biggest nightmare.



The dreaded negative review.


You may be tempted to hurry and close the browser in hopes that it magically disappears. A negative review that’s not responded to just goes away, right? Wrong! Ignoring the review and hoping for the best is exactly what you don’t want to do, as your response is critical in how future readers of the review will view your business and how it handles criticism from customers.

But, before you start typing up a long-winded, passive aggressive, defensive response, sit back, take a deep breath, and read our tips on how to best manage this situation.

Step 1: Get a grip on your emotions.


If you’re someone who invests a lot of time and energy into your work, and the company you own or work for, seeing someone talk disparagingly about it can understandably be upsetting. However, lashing out at the person who left the review, or even responding in a way that can read as sarcastic or blasé, will do nothing to help your case, and can even cause potential customers who see the review and your response to choose not to do business with you.

Instead, take a few moments to gather yourself. Take a short walk, watch a funny YouTube clip, eat a piece of good chocolate – do whatever works to get you back into your happy place.

Step 2: Research the situation.

Next, get to the bottom of the negative review and why the person left it. Look back at transaction records and/or talk to the employee(s) that interacted with the customer to get a better story of what happened. By doing so, you will be able to craft a response that will better address the reviewer’s issues with your company.

Step 3: Thank the reviewer.


When crafting your response, you should always start with thanking the person for taking the time to leave feedback. Even if everything they had to say about your business was negative, you can use that criticism to improve operations or provide better training to employees, turning the situation into a win-win.

Step 4: Apologize.

Even if you suspect that the review may be fraudulent (which we address below), you always want to take the high road from the get-go. Even a simple “I’m sorry that your experience didn’t meet your expectations” will do.

Step 5: Acknowledge the complaint.

Maybe your employees were having an “off” night and your customer didn’t receive the service that they had come to expect from your establishment. Own up to that fact and take accountability in your response. Sometimes it helps to put yourself in the review’s shoes to better see their point of view. After all, we’re all customers and have similar standards in how we want to be treated when we’re patronizing a business.

Step 6: Take it offline.


Wrap it all up by inviting your reviewer to contact you directly. This takes the conversation out of the public eye and shows that you care about reaching a resolution. Provide a phone number, as well as at least the first name of the person they should ask to speak to.

In the Case of a Fraudulent Review

Sometimes, you will find that the review wasn’t left by a legit customer. Maybe it was a disgruntled ex-employee, or a competing business. Whatever the case, you can flag the comment as inappropriate, which submits a case to Google to look into the review. If they deem it to be against their policies on leaving comments on the platform, they will remove it.

If they decide not to take the review down, the best option at that point is to respond in a way that draws attention to the fact that the review may not be legit. For example, “Thank you for leaving a review. We take feedback very seriously; however, we cannot find any record matching your name. Please contact Joe today at…” can help other people see that you at least tried to address the review.


Let Midwest Marketing take care of handling your negative reviews! Our reputation management services include our team responding to all of your reviews – even those pesky negative ones. Call us at 605-716-5666 today!